MLR

How to Make Saving Easier

By Stuart Vick Smith, ML&R Wealth Management

Closeup on money in piggy bank and purchases from local market on table

Americans work hard to make a living and earn a dollar. However, many Americans have little or no money set aside for retirement. Savings must be part of our day-to-day ritual with money. It is important to set up a savings routine without getting overwhelmed. Here are some tips to make saving for retirement a little easier.

Make savings automatic
Savings can be easy when you make it automatic. Set up an automatic draw from your checking account into your savings account as soon as your paycheck is deposited. Include this savings payment to yourself in your overall budget. With the automatic transfer of funds out of your checking account, you can set it up and forget about it.

Take advantage of employer dollars
If your company has a 401k plan, always participate. It is smart and easy. The money is taken directly out of your paycheck even before you see it. If you are participating in a traditional 401k, dollars contributed are not taxable wages. So in addition to saving for retirement, you reduce your taxes as well. If the company has a 401k contribution match, make sure that at a minimum you are contributing enough to receive 100% of the match available. If not, you are leaving free money on the table.

Managing debt while saving
If you have a large amount of debt, make a plan to pay off your debt and be disciplined to not take on more debt in the future. Many Americans are overwhelmed with credit card debt and other consumer debt. The interest only on this debt can drag on your monthly spending. Just paying the minimum amount will never get you ahead of the game. Set up a disciplined plan to pay off your debt. Once it is paid off, focus on moving all those payments to savings. Make sure to be focused and not just move the extra money to additional spending.

Other tax advantaged savings options
If you have earned income for the year, take advantage of either a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. Both IRA’s allow for tax benefits currently or in the future. In addition, putting this money aside allows you to lock it in so you don’t touch it until retirement. The system provides tax benefits but also the discipline to leave it alone will help let it grow.

Start saving young
The sooner you begin to save, the easier it is. Compounding interest and returns on your investments are a powerful reward. Start saving early always for many years of growth but also establishes the discipline it takes to save over the long term.